Twelve-month and lifetime health service use in Te Rau Hinengaro: The New Zealand Mental Health Survey

Mark A Oakley Browne, J Elisabeth Wells, Magnus A McGee
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 2006, 40 (10): 855-64

OBJECTIVE: To estimate the 12 month and lifetime use of health services for mental health problems.

METHOD: A nationwide face-to-face household survey carried out in 2003-2004. A fully structured diagnostic interview, the World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI 3.0) was used. There were 12 992 completed interviews from participants aged 16 years and over. The overall response rate was 73.3%. In this paper, the outcomes reported are 12 month and lifetime health service use for mental health and substance use problems.

RESULTS: Of the population, 13.4% had a visit for a mental health reason in the 12 months before interview. Of all 12 month cases of mental disorder, 38.9% had a mental health visit to a health or non-health-care provider in the past 12 months. Of these 12 month cases, 16.4% had contact with a mental health specialist, 28.3% with a general medical provider, 4.8% within the human services sector and 6.9% with a complementary or alternative medicine practitioner. Most people with lifetime disorders eventually made contact if their disorder continued. However, the percentages seeking help at the age of onset were small for most disorders and several disorders had large percentages who never sought help. The median duration of delay until contact varies from 1 year for major depressive disorder to 38 years for specific phobias.

CONCLUSIONS: A significant unmet need for treatment for people with mental disorder exists in the New Zealand community, as in other comparable countries.

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